Generations ago, back when humans still interacted face-to-face, there was a bond that formed through simple spoken word. People talked, argued, resolved arguments, agreed, and carried on. No matter the difficulty or inconvenience, to uphold a promise made to another person was considered an act of love, service and ultimately respect. But today, perhaps because communication has become too easy and impersonal as sending a text, we’ve managed to stray remarkably far from being able to enjoy our relationships in the rich context we were meant to.
All of this has resulted from a by-product of another c-word: control. We are a part of the consumerist culture where we have been bought, taught and swindled by a message that says we can and should be able to control our worlds. If you want anything, it's accessible in an instant. If you've changed your mind about it, you return it back or sell it. If you want to feel involved in the lives of others, without actually having to initiate anything on your part at all, you can check your social networks, instantly. This has taught us that things and relationships are interchangeable. If this one doesn't work out, it's okay because there are plenty more in the sea. We no longer value the people or the things in front of us. We've turned off this part of our emotions of caring endlessly and working to keep one relationship alive, rather we are interchanging the people in our lives with ease.
The issue with all of this is not only the physical disconnect we have with those around us, but we act as though there has been a cosmic decree that states we are entitled to life working out exactly the way we expect it to with minimal effort on our part, and maximum effort on behalf of everyone else. Then distressed is caused because of the lack of love and effort made in our relationships. Things begin to fall apart, and we aren't able to see why because our faces are buried deep into our phones.
Commitment is tough. You have to actually stick around. When you love someone, and leave them so simply, you leave them with scars greater than they were signing up for. Getting up and leaving actually hurts more than cheating or simply being wrong for each other. When a relationship just dies down and ends, you not only feel the feelings of a lost love but the feelings of lost hope: in a future love and in yourself. It's an inexplainable ending, as feelings have just been cut short, and you almost wish there was an actual reason for ending the relationship because hating someone is easier to get over than missing someone.
Do we really want to toss aside our loves as if they were paper-thin, mediocre acquaintances because of the smallest of problems? Or do we want our words to remain true and honest, allowing us to plunge much deeper and weather even the harshest of storms in our lives? Commitment is the anchor that keeps us afloat when we feel the pull to drown; enabling us to go beyond what naturally we would be comfortable with to brave newer and greater heights, to hold us to something bigger than just our own self-interest, and to carve in our hearts a new c-word to replace the fear: courage.
Have the courage to stay with the love that you know you never want to lose. All it takes is a bit of effort. Focus your time on this person and less on social. Stay true to your commitments rather than sending a quick, careless cancellation text. Commit to your word and commit to your relationships.
Before you go on and tell someone how much you love them, please reconsider every situation where they could possibly fail you and whether or not you’d still be willing to allow the aforementioned trio of syllables to dance off your lips. Before you say “I love you” please understand that those words are warmly embracing, not only your perception of who that person is today but, every part of them you've yet to discover. These three words are used so loosely in relationships now, we have forgotten what they mean. Love isn't an emotion you feel in a moment, it's an all encompassing expression of how you feel of someone always. Besides, our words, every time we repeat them, begin to mean nothing. I love you, I love you, I love you. Nothing. You're careless with your words and careless with your commitments. You don't have to love someone perfectly, but love them graciously. So when pain, inevitably, seeps through the cracks and you begin to look back and question this persons every intention, you’ll be reminded of the person you were first attracted to. You’ll be reminded to love, and see them, as God intended. You'll want to commit and stay.
May this beautiful struggle tell of the love that redeemed us.
Photograph from Alexis Ren